Academies are schools funded by the government with the freedom to govern independently - but all are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. To share resources and best practice, many are part of multi-academy trusts - a network of schools under one legal body.

Ark Ayrton Academy is part of Ark - a leading education charity and one of the country's top-performing academy operators. Ark is non-denominational and does not make any profit from running its schools.

Ark's relationship with the Secretary of State is set out in the master funding agreement. There are also supplemental funding agreements for each individual school in the network, including Ark Ayrton.

Every school in the Ark network is the legal responsibility of the Ark Schools Board. This board focuses on statutory duties and delegates most day-to-day responsibilities to each school's individual Local Governing Body (LGB). This means that, unlike most non-academy governing bodies, Ark Ayrton's governors are able to concentrate on the things that really matter - educational strategy, school outcomes and aspiration.

Master Funding Agreement

Amendment and restatement agreement 2013

Ayrton Supplemental individual funding agreement

our local governing body

From September 2017 Ark Dickens Primary Academy and Ark Ayrton Primary Academy share one local governing body. This decision was made to provide the schools with further opportunities to work more closely with each other, enabling more effective school to school support and bringing the benefits of governor skills to both schools.

The Ark Portsmouth Primary LGB is made up as follows:

Six to twelve members appointed by Ark, to include the Chair - usually people with a local connection or interest who are committed to supporting educational opportunity in the area

One local authority representative from Portsmouth

One parent representative

Ark aims to create a balanced group that will have the right skills, connections and dynamic for the LGB to work well and support the school in achieving exceptional performance:

  • Good insight into the specific challenges at the school and the general challenges of operating top-quality schools
  • Excellent community links
  • Specific skills as needed by/relevant to the school
  • A link to the senior executive team of Ark

The LGB meets six times a year.

We do not have separate committees but have designated Governors with particular responsibility. 

contacting the governors

The current Clerk to Governors is Valerie Oldland ( Governors can be contacted through Valerie, and the parent governor can be contacted through the school office.

If you are interested in becoming a governor, please visit If you have any governance-related queries, please contact

Current Governors


Canon Peter Leonard (Chair) 

I intended to become a teacher upon leaving school but instead worked in marketing and public relations until responding to a call to ordination in 1994. I completed a theology degree in Bristol before working in churches in Haslemere and Woking between 1997 & 2007 before retraining as a primary school teacher. From 2007 I worked in a school near Guildford before becoming Deputy Headteacher of a school in Waterlooville and then Head of School when it federated with another school. I returned to the church in 2014 becoming Canon Chancellor of Portsmouth Cathedral and am responsible for education and community engagement. I am a member of the Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Board of Education and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England. I live with my partner and two children in Portsmouth and enjoy fitness, kayaking, baking, walking and am a massive Doctor Who fan!

Evangeline Abbott

Evangeline graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a 2:1 in Drama and Performance. Since then she has gone into finance and banking as a career. Evangeline has experience in teaching in schools both in the UK and Kenya, has had a lengthy performing career spanning over 10 years, has also sat in management roles within theatre companies. She hopes to broaden her knowledge and skillset by continuing to study around her day to day life

Fiona Chapman (Principal, Ark Dickens Primary Academy)

Anne Hibberd-Chapman (Principal, Ark Ayrton Primary Academy)

Gareth Jelley (Safeguarding Link Governor)

I am currently working for Ark in the role of Head of Technical Services. I have over 13 years' experience working with schools in a variety of different IT support roles. In my previous role I was a member of a Safeguarding Committee for a network of 24 private schools, providing advice and guidance on how to support safeguarding with appropriate technology.

Dinah McKenzie (Finance Link Governor)

Dinah has spent her working life first in the City, leaving HSBC Asset Management when her children were small, and then in the voluntary sector, working at New Philanthropy Capital, a consultancy and think tank, since its founding in 2001. With two children now finishing their education, Dinah has left their school's PTA, where she was a long-standing member, but wants to continue working with students and teachers to make a contribution to school life. Skills include research, analysis and consultancy - with 15 years' experience of consulting to charities at NPC - as well as financial analysis and audit. Dinah has been treasurer of a local charity for the past decade, and now would like to be able to contribute to an Ark School.

Emily Morey (Charter Link Governor)

Hannah Plimmer (Ark Link Governor)

Hannah is part of the Communications team at Ark and oversees the marketing and attraction for teachers and teacher trainees. Hannah has worked in various roles in the education industry for the past 8 years, including education recruitment and EFL.  Hannah also has family links to education, with her mother owning an Early Years provision for over 20 years

Mike Pye (SEND Link Governor)

I was brought up on a council estate in Plymouth. I passed the 11+ exam and went to a local grammar school. I was awarded a place at New College, Oxford to read chemistry, later gaining a doctorate. After a relatively short career as a research chemist I joined the Royal Navy as an Instructor Officer, a career that lasted nearly 20 years. Towards the end of this time I felt the call to ministry and was ordained in the year 2000. I took up the post of vicar of All Saints Church in August 2007. I am married with two grown-up children.  I believe that the education system served me well and am eager to put something back to help our children today achieve their full potential.

Cllr Rob Wood (Vice Chair, Local Authority Representative)

I have been a Portsmouth City Councillor since 2010 and was Cabinet Member for Children and Education since 2011-14. I am currently a Party Spokesperson for Children. I have a vested interest in improving education outcomes as both grandchildren (and children) attended local authority schools. I have contributed to the LGiU paper on the ‘Middle-Tier’ role in delivering Education and the LA’s role within this and have recently spoken at several national seminars on the subject of education.

Prior to becoming a Councillor I spent many years in senior positions within the IT software industry, finally as a Director and Principal Technologist within a ‘Cloud Computing’ company. I currently independently consult and contract in this area as a CTO.

I am Chair of Trustees at Wymering Manor Trust and Vice Chair of Trustees for Portsmouth race equality network organisation (PRENO).

I became a Governor because I was keen to help and understand how to ensure both Academies and LA schools could work together to ensure the best outcomes for all our Portsmouth pupils. I want Portsmouth pupils to have the brightest future we can all help support.

Tracy Wooloff (parent governor)

I work as a customs clearance agent and have had the same profession for many years. I specialise in overseas operations. My daughter is currently in year 5 and is succeeding in all areas of education. I personally attended this school as a child and hopefully can help make the school a great school


The register of interests and attendance for LGB governors can be found here: Ark Portsmouth PrimaPDF iconry LGB 2017-18 - DOI and Attendance.

All appointments are made by the Ark Schools Director of Governance.  The term of a governor is three years, except for the Principal, who remains a governor for the duration of their time in post.